Banksy’s “Laugh Now” exhibition is on until August 31st at the Moco Museum, extended by popular demand. Delve into the work of the world’s most prolific anonymous artist and, for the first time in history, you can enjoy it all inside a museum. Head there before it ends!
Moco Museum, Amsterdam
Every street art lover across the globe knows Banksy. They know his work, his UK roots and how he’s revolutionized the concept of street art over the past 20 years. In fact, they know everything apart from one small detail: his identity, which he’s managed to keep secret over the past two decades.
What we do know, for starters, is that Banksy’s graffiti-led career took off back in the early 1990s in Bristol. Combining satire and controversy, the “king of the street art” has left his mark on walls across the world, from England to San Francisco, passing through Vienna, Barcelona and even Gaza. Through his dark sense of humor, he expresses satirical opinions on themes such as politics, consumerism, the environment, art and philosophy.
Using his trusty stencils, Banksy can convey powerful messages that transcend language barriers. His best-known works feature rats, monkeys and children, which are then altered and adapted to suit each message.
From painting street signs to purposefully leaving his mark on key buildings (check out the one in front of the French embassy in London), the artist’s aim is to “paint out loud” what’s not working in society.
This is Banksy’s first ever exhibition inside a museum, exclusively at Moco on Museumplein
“Laugh Now” at Moco Museum
Laugh Now is hosted at the Moco Museum (Modern Contemporary Museum) in Amsterdam. Located inside Villa Alsberg, a townhouse that dates back to 1904, it holds a key position on Museumplein, a public area known for its concentration of museums. Moco shares space with other museum heavyweights such as the Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum and the Stedelijk Museum.
Laugh now sandwich board wearing monkey / Banksy
It’s the first time Banksy has ever shown his work in a museum, so it’s definitely a must-see (who knows if he’ll ever do it again?!). Inside you’ll find 50 Banksy originals that are part of an exhibition so successful, it’s been extended until August 31st 2017.
Although he’s most famous for his outdoor art, Moco Museum gives you a rare insight into Banky’s indoor artwork on materials like canvas, paper and wood.
If you’re the greedy kind that needs even more art, don’t despair. The lower floor also hosts Dalí: Genius – an exhibition of work by the quirky mustachioed Spanish surrealist.
“Laugh Now” highlights
Balloon Girl / Banksy
As soon as you enter, you’ll find Balloon Girl on your left, the iconic image of a girl losing her heart-shaped balloon in the wind. The painting’s meaning has never been clearly defined – a common occurence that runs through Banksy’s work. Each piece is simple and open to interpretation, giving them universal appeal and understanding on all levels.
And Balloon Girl isn’t the only iconic piece – plenty of other classic Banksy pieces are also displayed: Laugh Now, Pulp Fiction, Kate Moss, Barcode, Flower Thrower, Kids on Guns and Bomb Hugger. Also, don’t miss the opportunity to see Beanfield, the 3 x 4m canvas that covers an entire wall and hasn’t been displayed since 2009.
Moving around, you’ll start to understand how much the artist loves puns. Look no further than The Banksy of England, a spoof of the UK £10 note, with the image of Princess Diana.
Flower Thrower / Banksy
Cardinal Sin / Banksy
Another highlight worth mentioning is Cardinal Sin, a bust of a priest with a pixelated face. This was Banksy’s way of condemning the Catholic Church after the child abuse scandal back in 2011. In a statement, the artist proclaimed: “I’m never sure who deserves to be put on a pedestal or crushed under one.”
The exhibition ends in the garden, where you can admire both Heart Boy and SWAT van. The first is a mural permanently installed in the garden and shows a child who has just drawn a heart on the wall. The installation weighs over 2 tonnes and is visible from outside the museum (free art for everyone!). The second is, as the name implies, a SWAT van, spray painted with a boy hoodwinking some armed Special Force agents on one side and with Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz on the other.
Regardless of whether you’re a Banksy convert or a lifelong fan, make sure to check out the gift shop to find some limited edition prints to commemorate the exhibition.
Fancy getting a piece of the action? Click below to get your tickets for Laugh Now at the Moco Museum!
SWAT van / Banksy
Credit: All artwork featured belongs to Banksy’s Laugh Now exhibition at Moco Museum, Amsterdam
All photos by Yasmine Gleghorn
Latest posts by Deborah Dal Mas (see all)
- Viva Arte Viva! What to see at Venice’s 2017 Biennale - September 1, 2017
- Laugh Now by Banksy at Moco Museum - July 10, 2017
- How to plan the perfect Venice getaway - June 30, 2017